What is Worship? (A Working Definition)

I have been diving into my current classes, two of which are heavily focused on the act and process by which we worship God. I do not have many comments on the following as I am still chewing on this material. But this powerful definition has challenged my personal and spiritual growth.


is the human response to the self-revelation of the triune God, which includes:
1) divine initiation in which God graciously reveals Himself, His purposes, and His will;
2) a spiritual and personal relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ enabled by the ministry of the Holy Spirit;
3) a response by the worshiper of joyful adoration, reverence, humility, submission, and obedience.



This three-fold definition unfolds based on the revelation and grace of God, an intimate relationship made possible through each Person of the Trinity, and the natural response of joy and gladness.

Is there anything you would like to add? Anything that should be made clearer? Leave a comment below.
This definition has been crafted by and is intellectual property of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dr. Joshua Waggener.

The Good Samaritan (reblog)

One day, a Christian of America made up in his mind to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, remind me on how I am to inherit eternal life.”  Jesus said to him, “What is written in the New Testament? How do you read it?” And he answered, “I must have faith in him whom God has risen from the dead. It is a living faith which leads me to love God and my neighbor.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But the Christian of America, didn’t fully appreciate the answer. He straightened his back. Cast a smirk of a smile and said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia, and he was car-jacked by several persons, who stole his clothes, seized his smartphone, broke his ribs, cracked his skull, leaving him unconscious on the side of the road.  Now it happened to be the time of a great conference and a pro-life group was passing by, and when they saw the man, they passed on by. Likewise a missionary group who just returned from India, when they came to the exact same location, they too passed on to the other side.

But a Muslim, 7817868_origas he traveled to work, saw the man on the side of the road, and when he saw him, he entered into his suffering. He pulled out his first aid kit, tended to the man’s injuries and then called 911 for emergency assistance. He followed the ambulance to the hospital and sat over night with the man in ICU.  Next morning he told the hospital billing office, “Here is my credit card. Take care of him and whatever he needs.”

Jesus looked at the Christian of America and with strong eyes asked, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man carjacked?”

The Christian of America clenched his fist. He looked around fumbling with the keys in his pocket. He finally looked up to Jesus and said, “The one who showed him mercy.”

And Jesus says to the Christian of America,

“You go, and do the same.”

This retelling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) was inspired by my friend Jared Wilson who tweeted on Monday December 7, 2015:

“If Jesus were telling the parable we call The Good Samaritan to many evangelicals today, it might be known as The Good Muslim.”

This year has proven we need to revisit this parable and others like it to recover how we are to live as Christians in this current climate. We are seeking to justify ourselves and how we treat others on the basis of our citizenship, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Such justifications lead us only to love those who are like us. This parable demonstrates the power of transformative love when those who are in conflict share in each other’s suffering. This parable is spoken to those who ask the question, “What must I do to inherit life?”

Jesus is speaking to us today.

Jesus is telling us a old story in a new way.

Jesus who has showed us mercy now says,

“You go, and do the same. It will cost you time. It will cost you resources. It will cost your life. But because I have give you the power of an indestructible life. You go, and do the same. Show mercy as an act of gratitude for the mercy you have received.”


Originally posted by Phillip Fletcher on 12/8/15

The Broken Clock (reblog)

Originally posted 9/30/2010 from my previous blog. Enjoy!


Over the past week, I have noticed something… A peculiar observation, maybe, but it got me thinking…

In my bathroom, there is a traditional clock with the second hand, minute hand, and hour hand. The second hand appears to be stuck. It keeps on twitching like its making an effort, has batteries, and everything! But it just will NOT move. It’s protected by a glass cover, so nothing external is stopping it…. Obviously, there is some internal problem? But what could that be.

Now, lets be honest for a minute… How many of us can relate this to our spiritual walk?

We have the Inspiration (the battery, if you will) of Jesus coming to DIE for a stupid sinners and all of the mistakes that we have made. That is not the issue.

We have the Mental Capacity to know what we should do. Instead, we choose not to? Shouldn’t we be striving for Spiritual Disciplines and being Spiritually fit–Exercising what we know, acting above reproach where others cannot assume wrongdoing.

We have the Protection to exercise these Freedoms and the opportunity to live in a Free nation unlike other Christians around the world. So many Christians (like myself) were sheltered homes from drugs, alcohol, and other addictions.

If we are saved, we should have the longing to grow in a relationship with Christ.

So what exactly is our excuse for complacency?

Is it because people will think we’re freaks or we won’t be accepted by our friends? Is it because we just don’t want to put any effort into the two-way relationship? Is it because we do not want to give up certain things like our pride or personal possessions? Whatever the reason may be, God means much more than any of those little excuses we rely on.

Self-examination should be something that we are constantly doing so we do not stop “ticking” and making any effort in life.

And to be honest, this is one of the fundamental things with Christianity! Once we get past these feelings and excuses, the minute hand slowly begins to move…. then the hour hand and time begins to MOVE and not just be in existence without any purpose! Moving on past complacency is an amazing feeling. Living your life to its fullest extent is incredible! Because we can and should discover God’s love and let that effect our everyday lifestyle and be contagious to other people.

When we really step back from a situation and realize that life more than just our lives and little excuses and truly understand that God’s wants us to be a part of His plan, we will truly understand God’s love for us and the fact that He does not want us to be living complacent lives.

For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

                                     -Proverbs 1:32

Cherishing Family Before They Are History

Over the span of two months, my family has lost two very important people. My grandma Pauley had a 5-7 year battle with Alzheimer’s, leaving her debilitated and unaware of her surroundings. There are many stories I could share about my time visiting her in institutions, listening to her tell stories, and watching Shirley Temple.

Our final time seeing my grandma before her passing in September. Dad had to keep up with how hungry she was.

Our final time seeing my grandma before her passing in September. Dad had to keep up with how hungry she was.

Early this morning my grandpa Pauley “Buddy” went to be with the Lord, to be with his wife in perfect bodies. He endured such a long and painful life; he was a tough man, but had a very tender heart. Even in my grandmother’s darkest hour, he was faithful in his love and his affection toward her. He was an abundantly free soul in spite of being paraplegic for most of his life.  In many ways, I want to be just like him and pass on the legacy he established on this earth.

3 generations of Pauley men. Jack Stack, our favorite place to visit in Kansas City, MO. Buddy always got the Poor Russ even if it wasn't the best on the menu.

3 generations of Pauley men. Jack Stack, our favorite place to visit in Kansas City, MO. Buddy always got the Poor Russ even if it wasn’t the best on the menu.

One of the last times I spoke with him in person, I was asking about our family history (otherwise known as genealogy). Do not take this lightly! Family history is such a precious thing; your past sets the trajectory of your future because it shapes the man or woman you will be. Cherish the time spent with and the lessons learned from family members. Cherish family this Christmas season because you do not know if this will be your last season together. Yesterday I was able to say one final goodbye to my grandfather. I shared a few sweet memories and a passage of scripture that I have committed to memory, verses I wish to share with you.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:2-5 ESV

Rich Mullins was a Christian songwriter, visionary, and anomaly in the 90’s. He unexpectedly passed away, but he highly valued family roots. In one of his biographies, he said “Until you come to terms with your heritage you’ll never be at peace with yourself.” His lyrics from “First Family” put it a little more poetically. “[My family] worked to give faith hands and feet, and somehow gave it wings.”

To conclude, I am still processing all of this. These are merely a few thoughts to digest this news. I want to encourage you: whatever pain you are in, there is a God greater than our pain. God loves you. This may be the last thing you want to hear because you need time to absorb the pain. But God doesn’t just love you; just like a Good Father, he longs to absorb your pain for you and replace with joy everlasting.

There are two books that have helped me get a broader of pain as well as family:
An Arrow Pointing to Heaven by James Bryan Smith (Devotional Biography on the life of Rich Mullins). Quoted above on page 14. Available on Amazon.
Stronger: How Hard Times Reveal God’s Greatest Power by Clayton King. He recently shared a sermon based on this book.

No Lower Place to Fall

Pride, an area where I am constantly struggling. This blog is by another worship leader and brother in Christ.


It has been a year and a half since the Holy Spirit embarrassed me in front of all of my colleagues and the parents of my students.

His timing was perfect…

Perfectly ironic.

It was the spring of 2013 and I was teaching high school Chemistry in Indianapolis. All the faculty, staff and proud parents were gathering to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our student body. We had made our way through some pretty serious academic awards that evening and we were moving nicely along to the more light-hearted portion of the ceremony. I was sitting in the middle of the teacher section when it happened; hemmed in on all sides by my esteemed colleagues.

The speaker was making some great jokes and had everyone in the room engaged and feeling good. And it was right in the middle of this moment that the Holy Spirit decided to interrupt my thoughts…

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My Testimony: A story of the gospel

I grew up in a wonderful home. Granted, no family is perfect but mine seemed better than most. My dad is a worship pastor and my whole family is musical. Jesus and music abilities. What could be better?

Elementary school, I was living in VA Beach where my dad was serving. We were heavily involved in choirs, student events, and everything in-between. I heard the gospel every Sunday growing up; however, one Sunday was different. The pastor was speaking on Hell and what Jesus went through, a “Brimstone and Fire” message if you will, and I felt severely convicted. He was speaking right to me (you know what I’m talking about). I came down front and prayed a prayer of salvation; I knew I was a sinner and that I needed God. To this day I believe God saved me then.

I have moved my entire life. I have lived in 8 cities across 3 states, most cities living in multiple homes. Especially during Middle School, I wondered why my family had to move. Why couldn’t I make friends? Why were all my friends happier than I was? Why does no one like me, think I’m funny, or laugh at my jokes? 
I became isolated. Closed off to trusting others. This was the easiest option, so I thought, because no one had to get hurt. Especially me.

Middle School in Roanoke was bad (7th and 8th grade were the worst). I was classified by others as a band geek, uncertain of who I wanted to be. Most days would be filled with self-loathing, depression, guilt, and suicidal thoughts. Why wasn’t I good enough? Why was I constantly messing up; wasn’t I supposed to be better than everyone else because my dad’s a pastor? I am such a hypocrite!

Middle school ends, high school begins, and we moved again. More of the same. We relocated to Richmond (where I attended Christian school), but this move was different. Back at the age of 9, I prayed a prayer to receive Christ. I was scared of God’s wrath, but I didn’t understand the immensity of this decision. Not only did God save me from Eternal separation from Him, but He bestowed grace and loved me even while I lived in my sin (1Jn 4:9-11; Rom 5:7-9, Eph 2:4-5). God’s love gained another dimension because the people of God treated the world just as Jesus commanded.
Years later, Christians in my youth group had joy and I naturally gravitated to them because I wanted the very same joy! The more I began to ask questions, the sooner they were answered. Simultaneously, my Christian life grew deeper (in trust and obedience) as well as wider (developing a heart for the nations). This is what Jesus meant when he spoke of making disciples.

To this day, I believe that God’s primary plan is to reach the lost world by means of The Church. God acts through his people, and we love others because he first loved us. “Testimony,” a declaration; “Gospel,” good news. “My declaration: a story of the good news.” Having shared part of my story, What good news will you proclaim about God’s work in your life?


Testimonies will never be the exact same. Every person is uniquely created in God’s Image, and every person has a testimony. Therefore, every testimony will be unique according to God’s Providence in their life.
We love stories. Whatever medium (movies, books, audible, or poetic), we love stories with a redemptive plot. Because we live in a culture of stories, I encourage you to write out your testimony, share it with a friend, or tell an unbeliever about what God has done in your life. If you do not have a testimony about a personal relationship with God, please contact me using the form below. I would love to hear from you and begin a conversation in more detail.

–Landon, SDG

Death, A Source of Life

When I was little, I remember doing a school project. My class took a cup of soil and a seed to grow a small plant inside. With proper water, nutrients, and sunlight, we would grow a brand new plant. A seed dies to itself so that a plant can be produced, a process called germination. From this “death” comes the new life of a plant.

Death. Nobody likes to talk about it. Yet, it is something everyone has in common. It is a hard reality to grip, but we will all die. Somehow, someway.

I have been gripped with that reality with the passing of my grandmother. She has suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years, climaxing to this week and her passing Sunday. This is the closest family member I have lost. There are so many emotions that I do not understand, so many memories I will cherish, and my heart is unsteady.

As you can understand, I have experienced a paradox of pain and joy. Pain, knowing that my beloved grandmother suffered from the effects of Sin; Pain because my children will not get to see or know their great-grandmother. I will never again see her on this earth.

But there is hope. I experience Joy, because I will never again see her in an imperfect state. Though disease won over her body, she trusted a The Healer who has conquered death. Joy arises because she is no longer in pain. You see, death gives way to life.

As my family mourns, I would ask that you join us in prayer over 3 things.
  1. Pray for travel/funeral arrangements made this week. My immediate family will be traveling to Missouri and back over the course of 3-4 days. It is an exhausting 16 hour drive one-way.
  2. Pray for my family as we both mourn and rejoice in her passing. Coping with a death is never easy. She leaves behind a faithful husband of over 50 years, a brother, two children, multiple grandchildren, and many others who will remember her life.
  3. Pray for others in your community that are suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s. This is an ugly, morbid disease that tears loved ones. Pray and support those who have a terminal illness, cancer, or other diseases. Do not merely support them with your words (while these are good); empathize with them. Literally place yourself in their position and show compassion to them.

With all this in mind, remember that death gives way to life. Life is a gracious gift. Do not take it for granted. Through death of a loved one, community comes together to celebrate life and grow even stronger. Life comes from our mourning.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-3
A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
since that is the end of all mankind,
and the living should take it to heart.
Grief is better than laughter,
for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad.

Time for Renewal and Change

A lot has happened over these past few months. I have been torn away from my friends and family in Wake Forest/Raleigh, moved back to a less-familiar community, and been thrown into situations to make me grow into the man God desires me to be. It has been a very sweet time of growing closer with my family, something that I have not cherished like I ought. It has been a much-needed season of rest, discipline, and maturing.

Maturity, in my life, has come about through significant changes. I’m sure that you can relate no matter your background. A new job comes along, you meet someone special, school starts, or you move to a totally new area. You and I learn to just roll with whatever comes our way; some have just had more practice.

The Pauley family will no longer be living in the Rocky Mount area. We are awaiting God’s plan and direction to unfold for us. These past 5 years at Englewood Baptist Church have been a sweet time to grow closer to Christ and other believers in the church. I say this all with mixed emotions because this move is full of contradictions. It is simultaneously uncertain and exciting, sorrowful and enlightening. Like many other moves in my life, there will be friends that are sad or hurting. But the best response is a godly response, one that asks honest questions to the All-Knowing God who can answer it in His timing.

 We are growing in Christ while learning to trust him more. Nathan will be a freshman at Liberty University and traveling with a ministry team. I will be in Wake Forest continuing my education at Southeastern Seminary. There will be updates over time; with that, I will close with a passage from Scripture.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
26 For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Romans 8:18, 26-30


Staying Single (and being okay with it)

This isn’t going to be another blog about being single, hating PDA between couples, or a pointless/senseless rant. I want to simply remind you of the gospel.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created the man (Hebrew, ha-adam) in the Imago Dei. God told Adam to eat of any tree “except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.'”

God created Eve to accompany Adam, to help him. They were created to be one flesh. A marriage is simply that, a man laying down his life for his bride just as Christ has exemplified for us. If this post is about being single, why start with marriage? I want to point out that marriage is a good thing. Singleness is also a good thing.

I’m sure that we have all seen our friends/relatives get into relationships, go through a season of being engaged, and finally getting married. I’ve seen this happen more times than I would like to admit. It has taught me something: looking at others’ relationships should not necessarily dictate my own. Where I am in life, I do not see myself getting married anytime soon. I’ve been learning that this season is for my growth and maturity so that I can be prepared for whatever lies in store for my life. Could God give me the gift of marriage? Absolutely. But for now I am learning how to grow and mature as a son of God.

I trust that he will show his plan in a future spouse (either confirming singleness or marriage). Marriage is a gift. Singleness is also a gift [see the verse to follow]. Both of them occur in seasons (of remaining celibate for life or transitioning into marriage for life). I want to break a stereotype. I hope that Scripture will shed some light on this subject and support the view I hold about marriage. Paul writes to the church of Corinth:

“Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband… 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
1 Corinthians 7:1-9, emphasis mine.

There are so many rich parts about this passage. Paul explicitly says that he has been given the gift of celibacy. He also mentions, not once but twice, that it is good for a man to be single if God has given him this gift. I immediately see that this interpretation is not true for many in my life (Christians and non-Christians alike). While it is not good for man to be alone, God is still more than enough. The reality is that God can do an incredible work in your life whether you have a spouse or not; sometimes His means are with a spouse, others not. After all, one of the main purposes of marriage is to make you holy instead of just settling to make you happy.
Another thing we see in this passage is that Paul was single. Paul, the man who wrote fourteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books. Paul, one of the most influential apostles in the First Century. Paul was single. God used Paul’s singleness to bring about a great work for the Church, His Bride.

With this passage called to mind, should we still use phrases like these? “I can’t wait to see the man/woman God has in store for you,” “Have you prayed about it/tried online dating/put yourself out there?” or “Do you have anyone special?”
I hope my point is clear that singleness is not a disease. Singleness is a misunderstood gift that needs to be re-embraced and understood how God intends for it to be. We, as the Church, need to address relationships through the lens of Scripture before consulting worldly authority.
I want to clarify that I am not saying marriage is a bad thing, but marriage should not be the default standard. Read 1 Corinthians 7:26-28 to see that marriage is a good gift from God that includes worldly troubles.

For more on the subject:

Coming to a Pause

Change is a necessary part of life. Without change, nothing moves. There is no growth and no advancement apart from change. One of the key problems with change is attitude in response to a situation. We can look to God who is in control or collapse inward and worship our comfort, the idols of the heart.

I feel like the world that I have come to know is screeching to a halt. I contemplate the things that I’ve done right and question the things I have done wrong. There will always be responsibilities I neglected and opportunities I chose to take for granted. I’ve made so many decisions, good and bad, over the years since coming to college. I have joined a church that comforts and challenges me in my faith. I have had the privilege to study who God is, who I am in relation to God, find things in life that make me passionate, and grow as both a leader and a disciple. I have seen exponential growth after seasons of uncertainty and pain, only to realize that God has been working all along. This season will be no different.

My time in the Wake Forest area is going to be put on pause for an unknown amount of time. I have some areas in my life that need attention. In the mean time, I know life will go on without me. Lord-willing, I will continue to grow in every dimension and pursue ultimate joy that can be only found in him.
I’m reminded of a lesson I learned this summer during City Project: my success, day to day, is not found through what I accomplish nor the goals I reach. It isn’t found in career advancements nor money, intellect nor power. My worth and identity is found in Christ; my success is to only be found in Knowing God and Loving Others.